Say what you will about the folks from Redmond, WA, but most of us still use their software to get things accomplished. So like it or not, when Microsoft updates its programs it is big news, and so I pass this along to you today. Microsoft has made a free beta version of Office 2007 available for download from the web. I downloaded it today, and I am impressed with it so far. I have spent most of my time in Word and Outlook, which have both gone through significant revisions, and I will outline some of the interesting things I found.
Though the functionality is not radically revamped, Word has a nice new look and feel to it. Gone are the drop down menus, replaced by toolbars and icons that change based on your selection. One nice enhancement is the ability to add equations into a document with a one click – a great note taking tool for the college classroom. There are also improved charting and formatting functions. A function called SmartArt, allows you to easily import some wonderful graphic elements to illustrate concepts or processes. It is easy to e-mail from the application, print to the web, and the editing options are greatly improved. Overall I was very impressed.
Let me preface this by saying I am a gmail guy. Still, work is not onboard with “The G.” If your company is like mine, you are forced to use outlook to manage your e-mail. Although I am not a huge fan of outlook, I must say this product has been improved quite a bit. Some of the key enhancements include a desktop search application and an improved task and to-do management tool. The biggest enhancement is the integration of RSS directly into Outlook. It is this feature that will make Outlook relevant again and will finally lead to the mass adoption of RSS. Once given the Microsoft seal of approval, RSS will be delivered to the masses. If you don’t understand RSS or have it incorporated into your web-site, you had better get on board. The RSS interface is very nice. It organizes feeds into the familiar Microsoft folders, and then separates by read / unread, date sent and subject. It is very user friendly, and delivers RSS in a format that is very similar to e-mail. This will serve to bridge the gap of understanding how RSS works for many. Of everything I have seen, I believe this will have the biggest impact on the way in which people use computers.
As a test, I composed this post completely in Word, and published it directly to the site to test it. I am interested to see the results. One definite drawback is that I am not able to put categories on my post from Word, but that is nothing too terrible.
As I dig deeper into the trial offer, I will discuss other new enhancements I discover. If you are interested in finding out about MS Office 2007 for yourself, download the beta and let me know what you think.